There are plenty of lawyers who can ably represent the legal community in the N.C. General Assembly. But one wonders who represents we the people?
Case in point: The General Assembly’s last-minute dismantlement of a system that for decades has served the public perfectly well in its transparency and investigation of judicial complaints and, when necessary, discipline of state judges.
The legislature went out of its way in the waning hours of the session to rip that power from the Judicial Standards Commission and hand it over to the N.C. Supreme Court. The move also hides all disciplinary rulings from the public unless the Supreme Court chooses to disclose its actions. And the bill makes the Supreme Court the only authority allowed to judge its own justices.
That’s hardly the kind of openness that has been a hallmark of governments at all levels under the U.S. Constitution. But don’t take our word for it. Even the N.C. Bar Association is flabbergasted by the bill. The Bar has urged Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the legislation, and we applaud its position.
The Judicial Standards Commission is made up of judges, lawyers and even laymen. It handles an average of 300 cases a year, and we have yet to hear any outcry about its performance.
If a judge has been accused of a lapse of ethics or worse, shouldn’t the public know about that?
If one or more Supreme Court justices are accused of misconduct, shouldn’t someone other than the folks sitting beside the accused judge look at the case?
The governor, thus far, appears to be a yes-man for whatever his pals in the legislature cook up. It would be nice to see him step up for the people who elected him and veto this awful bill.